About the Book
This is the first volume of the Annual Series of Arth and Culture. The raison d’etre for this undertaking is the absence of any regular publication in India encompassing matters related to some specific aspects of society in one volume. The contents of the volumes under this scheme will not be restricted to any particular period or geographical area. Moreover, the purpose is to encourage scholars to think and write in terms of social mores and values far as possible. In fact, interpretation is the key – word. To begin with, however, the themes will be confined to a) Cultural set – up and Values; b) Art and Architecture, and c) Science and Technology.
This volume is dedicated to Professor Mohammad Habib (b. 1895; d. 1971).
The names of the contributors along with their contributions are given below: Iqtidar Husain Siddiqui, ‘The process of Acculturation in regional Historiography: The case of Delhi sultanate’; Satya Prakash Singh, ‘Erotic Elements in Temple Art’; Madhu Trivedi, ‘Encounter and Transition – European impact in Avadh (1765-1856)’; Som Prakash Verma, ‘Some Problems of the Mughal school of art: Ascriptions, duplicate versions and modern attributions’; Mridula Ramanna, ‘Indian response to western Medicine, Vaccination in the city of Bombay in the Nineteenth Century’; Ahsan Jan Qaisar, ‘Muhammad Zaman: A seventeenth century controversial artist’; Mahesh Sharma, ‘Popular religion: Local Tradition in the hills of Himachal Pradesh’; J.V. Naik, ‘Perception of British Rule in Maharashtra, A selective study Ahsan Jan Qaisar and Rana Firdaus, ‘The craft of bookbinding in Mughal India’; Neelima Vashishtha, ‘The Cbbatri (Cenotaph) of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur’; Hassan Imam, ‘SIGNALS FROM Behind the Purdab: Muslim Women during the first half of the 20th century’; Som Prakash Verma, ‘Classical (Ajanta) Survivals in medieval schools of painting; A. Padma, ‘Women and the temple in medieval India: A note’; Kamlesh Mohan, ‘Colonialism and Ethnic Identities in India (19th to early 20th century)’; Abdul Matin, ‘In quest of Indigenous Approach to women studies in India’; and S. Liyaqat H. Moini, ‘The Hindus and the Dargah of Ajmer A.D. 1937-1857’.
Ahasn Jan Qaisar (b. 1933) is a product of Aligarh Muslim University. He resigned from his alma mater in October 1994 as a Professor of Social and Cultural History. He is the author of two books published by the Oxford University Press, New Delhi: The Indian Response to European Technology and Culture, A.D. 1498-1707 (1982) and Building construction in Mughal India: The Evidence from Paintings (1988). He has edited Art and Culture (Felicitation Volume in Honour of Professor S. Nurul Hasan) in 1993 and Art and Culture: Endeavours in Interpretation in 1996, both jointly with Professor Som Prakash Verma. He worked as a Visiting Fellow for one year at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (India) during 1974 – 1975. He went to the U.K. on a visiting fellowship sponsored by the Indian council of historical research, New Delhi (1977 – 78). Later he worked at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) during 1986-87 as a Fulbright fellow. He has been a member of the advisory board (Medieval India), Indian National Commission for History of Science (INSA), New Delhi.
Professor Som Prakash Verma (b.1942), an art historian, at present at the Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University, has two books and numerous articles to his credit. His Art and Material Culture in the Paintings of Akbar’s Court published in 1978 by Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, may rightly be said to be the first authentic treatment of art as a source of history by an Indian scholar. His second work entitled Mughal Painters and Their Work – A Biographical Survey and Comprehensive Catalogue was published in 1994 by Oxford University Press, New Delhi. This is the first comprehensive book of reference as well as a critical reappraisal of the works of more than two hundred Mughal painters.
Professor Verma is a practicing artist as well. He is the recipient of two prestigious awards by the Indian Academy of Fine Arts, Amritsar (1981) and the Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta (1982).
In 1986-7, he worked at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. as a Fulbright Fellow.
For long we have been contemplating to bring out a series of volumes on Art and culture. When consulted, our well – wishers in the academic circle welcomed our idea, and encouraged us in this venture.
The raison d’etre for this undertaking is the absence of any regular publication in India encompassing matters related to specific aspects of society in one volume.
We are interested in everything which is of human concern, such as philosophy, education, literary criticism, aesthetics, sexology, social medicine, gender studies, environment/ecology, are and architecture, etiquette and manners, etc. Even articles on political and economic aspects come in our orbit. But we wish to underscore that mere narration of events or ideas, etc. is not enough. To put it clearly, interpretation is the key-word. But as cautioned by Umberto Eco, ‘over interpretation’ should be shunned. In fact the problem of interpretation is intensely fragile. Who is interpreting what? In a situation when there is a possibility of a set of multiple interpretations, which is the ‘best’ one? What should be the criteria to determine the ‘best’ one? Eco agrees with the Popperian principle according to which “if there are no rules to help to ascertain which interpretations are the ‘best’ ones, there is at least a rule for ascertaining which ones are ‘bad’.” Perhaps this opinion might not solve the problem in its entirety. Therefore, the least that the writers should do is to restrain the urge to violate the boundaries of the evidence/text. Perhaps the assessment of the readers/audience might act as a deterrent in case imagination is left unfettered. At any rate, our point is to emphasize the act of interpretation without which an academic product would be dry and barren.
Another objective of our endeavour is to gradually lure the scholars to cultivate the habit of brooding and writing within the syndrome of social forces, and at the same time, it is an integral part of these forces. Values, in turn, reinforce the existing structure. This applies more to political history. Form example, one could examine the problem of hierarchy of political loyalty in any society – past or present – instead of plain description. Again, the struggle for power among the ruling elite, or the political aspirations of the less privileged groups could be interpreted in the perspective of value –system. Here we suggest that greater attention should be paid to the role of the ego of the individuals in society. Similarly, the mercantile groups’ mode of thinking and attitude should be explored in depth.
Thus, our purpose is to produce volumes carrying articles drawn from diverse disciplines and set in some conceptual framework to make them really meaningful and relevant. To concretize the themes for the present, the following categories may serve as a sort of guideline: (a) Cultural Set – up and Values; (b) Art and Architecture, and (c) Science and Technology. Finally, the contents of the proposed volumes under our scheme will not be restricted to any particular period of history or geographical area. The present volume is just a humble beginning.
We look forward to an increasing cooperation from young responsive writers more than the veterans for some of whom it might be difficult to adjust their intellectual antennae to what we aspire for.
We are greatly thankful to our publisher Mr. Shakti Malik (Abhinav Publications, New Delhi) for accepting the onerous task to bring out the intended volumes regularly.
This first volume of the annual series of Art and Culture is dedicated to Professor Mohammad Habib (b.1895; d.1971).
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